Category Archives: Animal

Bird Art – Maxwell – original charcoal & watercolour sparrow

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This is Maxwell.

I named him after a character in a historical novel I was listening to whilst drawing him.

He’s been a saved photograph for quite a while, and in fact I have tried to draw him a few times.  Due to the fluffy nature of his coat it would only work with certain mediums.  Also, interestingly, I always have a problem with brown.  Lots of birds and animals have quite a lot of tan colour in their feathers and coats, for some reason that colour or tone always seem to be absent from my sets of pastels.

In the end I had to mix it myself.  It’s the first time I’ve used watercolour with charcoal but they work quite well as long as the charcoal drawing has been fixed before you start applying the paint.

Here are a few progress shots….

Maxwell, as with Betty was painted in charcoal initially.  It gives the bird a good flowing undercoat before working in my detail with the sticks of charcoal.  Probably a bit more controlled than with Betty.  Once the charcoal is dry its very easy to manipulate it, move it around, lift it off etc.

He always seems to be quite chirpy to me, singing away merrily…

The finished piece is available in my website shop – click here to go there!

Or click on the framed piece below…

Maxwell - framed

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Betty – original charcoal sheep drawing

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This is Betty, a sheep that I took a picture of whilst walking my dog Charlie.

It’s the first sheep I have drawn, think I will definitely do more.  She was fascinated by my dog Charlie, watching him wherever he went, constantly munching her grass as she did so.  She was actually a pretty good looking sheep.

I hadn’t planned to do her just yet but I was desperate to try out a new charcoal technique that I had heard of and that is painting with charcoal.  To be fair I couldn’t find out much about it.  I had heard of painting a charcoal wash and of adding water to the charcoal already down to create a darker line but not actually doing a full painting with it.

Anyway, after flicking through my photographs I decided that Betty was going to be my guinea pig (or sheep).

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All I knew is that I had better use watercolour paper.  Fortunately I have quite a stash of watercolour paper, particularly the heavier paper from a phase of botanical watercolour last year.

Selecting a piece I began to make the wash, using a mixture of left over bits of charcoal dust from sharpening sticks to a pot of charcoal powder I began simply to just mix water with it.

Trying it on a scrap of paper I was immediately excited by the lovely dark colour and the way the brush strokes showed through.  Adding more water created a light grey and playing it carefully I could have the full range of light grey to dark black.  It also dried very quickly, leaving a dusty surface that I could lift off and move around.

Here’s a little clip video of the charcoal with water….

I took the painting with charcoal as far as I could but it became apparent that I wouldn’t be able to do the fine details with it.  So I worked on her face with normal charcoal sticks.  Here are some progress shots…

I tried painting with the white charcoal by sharpening the white charcoal stick and using that dust, it created a grey rather than white which I used on her body as she had a lot of grey hair.

The finished piece can be seen on my website shop by clicking here

Or clicking on the completed drawing below…

original charcoal drawing of a sheep in painted charcoal

I intend to use this process again.  Points going forward would be to plan it a little better with an initial drawing so that I can paint on the charcoal in exactly the right place.  I had to move one of her eyes afterwards….

Let me know if you have a go at this technique

Sebastian – original charcoal drawing of a junco

Sebastian (2)

Meet Sebastian

He’s a little junco bird, a very fluffy one.

Charcoal is a great medium for capturing movement.

Birds are never still, they are constantly moving or about to.  When drawing or painting birds I like to ensure I’ve captured that flitting sense that a bird has.

 

Here are some progress shots as I build up the charcoal…

 

I make sure the bird is completely drawn in charcoal first, adding the colour just at the end.

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Sebastian is available to buy from my website shop here

Or click on the image below to visit him….

Sebastian (2)

Billy – original charcoal and pastel bluetit drawing

charcoal and pastel drawing of a bluetit

I am getting quite proficient with my camera now and despite walking and taking my camera with me, the best shots are always from the birds in my own garden.

This little fella comes to visit with his gang most days.  The feeding from the bird table and the feeders has increased greatly since the weather has got colder.  I recognise Billy from the slightly tufty hair on his head, he’s quite bold for a bluetit.

I made a little video of laying down the pastel on his head with a few conte sticks.  I love adding a shock of colour to my charcoal drawings but always try to keep it to a minimum

 

Billy is available to buy from my website shop.

Click here to follow the link

Scout – original pastel drawing of grey squirrel

 

pastel drawing of a squirrel in autumn leaves in a park

I photographed this squirrel in Sheffield Botanical gardens.  Used to squirrels locally that shy away from the camera I was delighted to see how tame he was.  As I crouched down to get a good shot he just wandered over to say hello…

His eyes were full of curiosity, bright and cheerful – I loved him straight away.

I have completed him in pastels – soft, conte and finally pastel pencils on primed gatorboard.

Here is a little slideshow of some progress shots…

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Scout is available to buy from my website shop here or clicking on the framed image below..

Scout framed (20)_

3’s A Crowd – original pastel dog drawing commission

original pastel drawing of two jack russells and a beagle

3’s A Crowd

This was a tough commission.  The original drawing is 20 x 16″ on pastelmat.

When originally asked to do the commission I was presented with a photograph of the three dogs in this pose.  It’s taken by a professional pet photographer.  My initial reaction was to say that the photo was great and could not be improved upon with art.  However, the customer insisted that he wanted something bigger and completed in art.  Reluctantly I agreed, as most pet artists know a great photo can lead to a great piece because when the photography is so clear it makes my job a lot easier.

Decisions – I thought the best course of action was to focus on the dog’s faces and make everything else loose and impressionistic.  I figured that if I drew the bench and the trees and grass in great detail then it would detract away from the dogs themselves.

Here are my materials for the commission – Unison soft pastels (Emma Colbert set) stabilo carbothello pastel pencils, conte soft and hard pastels all on pastelmat.

 Here is a slideshow showing progress shots taken as I went along…

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The piece took just over 2 weeks to complete….

Christmas Drawings

During the last few weeks I have been working on commissions, attending art fairs and working on my new mini 8 x 8″ pencils studies from life.

Here is a collection of my recent work…..

graphite pencil drawing of a kitten

Lowra

This is Lowra, she has been drawn in graphite pencil, various grades from 9B to 6H.  Lots of blending to give her the softness.  You can click on the image or click here to find out more information about Lowra.


These small studies formed the beginnings of a new series ‘ Daily Sketches’.  They are all sized 8 x 8″ and come framed for £55.  They are completed in graphite pencil on Arches Watercolour paper.  They have proved popular with two of them selling fairly quickly.  By doing these small detailed sketches each morning it gives me an opportunity to keep my artist’s eye finely tuned before moving on to my larger commissioned piece for the rest of the day.  You can discover more about my daily sketches by visiting the page on my website here


Finally here is a collection of my commissions completed for Christmas…

The New Year has brought a wave of commissions, mostly for cricket and some pet portraits….Exciting times